August invites you to shine bright like the sun which requires you to leave behind the sob stories of being the underdog. Recognize your power as a reflection of the Divine and watch how far you can go. Be mindful of that inner critic when Mercury enters Virgo. For every negative thought, counteract it with three compliments about yourself. When Venus enters her home sign, relationship matters get a whole lot sweeter after the wild ride that was Mercury Retrograde.
Check out how the month ahead affects your zodiac sign!
AriesAriesLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The month kicks off with a New Moon in magnanimous Leo inviting you to share your creative gifts with the world, making this a supportive time to start a new project or hobby. On the 11th, Mercury enters Virgo, helping you streamline your routine so you're not spending as much time working. When Venus enters Libra on the 16th, love is in the air. Discussions of taking things to the next level in a relationship are likely right now, Aries.
On the 19th, Uranus goes Retrograde which will radically transform your view of financial security and abundance. Get creative and don't be afraid to try something outside of the box.
The Full Moon on the 22nd inspires you to dream bigger as a result of a major accomplishment. What's next on the bucket list? The Sun enters Virgo on the same day, making it a good time to schedule your annual health screenings to make sure your body is running in its optimal condition. The month ends with Mercury teaming up with Venus, bringing some important negotiations to the table for you.
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Home and family matters are the focus on the New Moon, Taurus. Planning to add a new addition to the family, renovating/decorating your current abode or investing in new property is supported during this time. On the 11th, Mercury enters Virgo to sweeten up your love life (if you'll make some time for it). As good as work is going, it's important to indulge in some fun from time to time.
When Venus enters Libra on the 16th, you're encouraged to fall deeper in love with your body which isn't just about draping yourself in the finest clothes. Feed your vessel nourishing foods and keep your stress levels at a minimum.
On the 19th, Uranus goes Retrograde inviting you to liberate yourself through your appearance and the way you present yourself to the world. Consider this transit a rebrand of your identity. The Full Moon on the 22nd is bringing the pressure in matters of career but if anyone can handle the heat, it's you. On the same day, the Sun enters Virgo encouraging you to tap into your creative side. Don't let your inner critic stifle your self-expression. At the end of the month, Mercury joins Venus to restore balance to your life through a better schedule and some much-needed organization.
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August begins with a New Moon on the 8th encouraging you to shine bright like the sun, Gemini. Use your voice to inspire, uplift, and encourage others to shine as well. On the 11th, Mercury enters Virgo which could be stirring up a little tension on the homefront which could make this a good time to consider making some changes in your environment--even if that means you moving elsewhere. When Venus enters Libra on the 16th, you're invited to indulge your romantic side. Buy yourself a cute outfit, ball out at Sephora, and getcho fine ass outside so somebody's son can see you.
On the 19th, Uranus Retrograde serves to transform you as you surrender your plans to the Divine plan. The Full Moon on the 22nd positions you in the spotlight to share your gems of wisdom.
Writing, mentoring, and teaching may be areas of interest for you around this time. On the same day, the Sun enters Virgo which has you laser-focused on your family's imperfections. Hold space for people's humanity. No one is perfect. Not even you. On the 30th, Mercury teams up with Venus, encouraging you to nurture your creativity and inner child.
CancerCancerLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The month kicks off with a New Moon inviting you to plant the seeds for a new financial endeavor. Expect new money-making opportunities to be presented to you this month, Cancer. On the 11th, Mercury enters Virgo which could have you more critical of yourself than usual. Detach from your inner critic and affirm your greatness! When Venus enters Libra on the 16th, be mindful of tension amongst your family. Remember, you're allowed to assert your boundaries with anyone--even mom and dad.
On the 19th, Uranus goes Retrograde, giving you a chance to adjust your perspective on humanity. Yeah, humans suck at times but there's a lot of great people out there as well. Be open to aligning with like-hearted individuals.
On the 22nd, the Full Moon liberates you from traumatic experiences that resulted in you hiding the true you. The Sun enters Virgo on the same day, making this a good time to brush up on your communication skills and learn something new. Your mind is super absorbent right now so take advantage of this by handling anything that requires brainpower, organization, and discipline. On the 30th, Mercury links up with Venus inviting you to beautify your space to host a cute dinner party for your family or friends.
LeoLeoLaci Jordan for xoNecole
August begins with a New Moon in your sign inviting you to blow out the candles and make a wish for what you want to accomplish in your next year around the Sun, Leo. On the 11th, Mercury enters Virgo, giving you a chance to organize your budget and streamline your strategy to your many different streams of income. When Venus enters Libra on the 16th, you're feeling the love thanks to all of the lovely words of affirmations and compliments that you're receiving from your admirers.
On the 19th, Uranus goes Retrograde could be uncomfortably forcing you to make some changes in your career that could be shocking to others but ultimately the best thing for you to align with your future vision of the legacy you're creating.
The Full Moon on the 22nd has you reevaluating your partnerships and whether they are compatible with your current need for freedom of expression. On the same day, the Sun enters Virgo, making this a good time to get clear on your personal values so you can avoid wasting time on pursuits that just don't matter to you. The month wraps up with Mercury entering Libra supporting you in any public speaking, communications, or writing efforts. Let yourself be heard!
VirgoVirgoLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The month starts off on a more secluded note for you with the New Moon on the 8th. Rest, reflect, and release anything that you don't want to take into your new year with you, Virgo. On the 11th, Mercury enters your sign which will pick up the pace for you. Expect to be a little busier during these next few weeks. A planner will help you stay on top of your many different tasks, social engagements, and responsibilities.
On the 16th, Venus enters Libra to help you establish some balance with how much you're spending and how much you're saving. As my mother always taught me, "Don't forget to pay yourself first."
On the 19th, Uranus goes Retrograde, inviting you to radically break away from beliefs that restrict your sense of individuality and freedom. The Full Moon reveals a blindspot that has been affecting your productivity levels. On the same day, the Sun enters your sign ushering in your birthday season! It's your time to shine! Bask in the admiration and generosity of others. The month wraps up with Mercury entering Libra which has you in the mood to renegotiate some contracts. It's time to raise those rates, honey!
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Your friends and social circle are top priority on the New Moon, encouraging you to expand your network and align with more like-minded people. On the 11th, Mercury enters Virgo which has your dream world more active than usual, Libra. This is a supportive time for uncovering roadblocks within your subconscious so you can receive what you actually want instead of making up excuses for why you don't deserve it right now.
When your ruling planet, Venus, enters your sign on the 16th you are the belle of the ball. Your aura is even more magnetic at this time which has you attracting a lot of attention, opportunities, and fortune.
On the 19th, Uranus goes Retrograde to create some powerful change in your internal world. Unlearning some of your conditioned beliefs and behaviors is necessary for the breakthrough and growth you want to experience. The Full Moon on the 22nd is a supportive time to launch a creative project, go on a date, or reconnect with your inner child. On the same day, the Sun enters Virgo which can be draining your energy. Rest up for your birthday season and reflect on the lessons of the past year. August wraps up with Mercury transitioning into your sign which can feel a little demanding if you're not well-rested. Don't be afraid to say "no" to invitations for the sake of self-care.
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August kicks off with a New Moon in Leo which is forcing you to make some changes in your line of work. It's time to think bigger and long-term when it comes to your career and your legacy. On the 11th, Mercury enters Virgo which has you feeling more sociable than usual. Take advantage of this transit and get out to mingle. You never know who you'll meet, Scorpio.
When Venus enters Libra on the 16th, be discerning about who you're welcoming into your inner circle. Everyone may not have the best intentions but that doesn't mean you can't make some genuine connections.
On the 19th, Uranus goes Retrograde which is stirring up the winds of change in your partnerships and personal boundaries. If you feel stifled in a connection, it may be time to address it or break free. The Full Moon in Aquarius could have you feeling stretched thin between the demands of family, your significant other, and your career. You can't please everyone so don't stress yourself out. On the same day, the Sun enters Virgo, inspiring you to revive your vision for a better future. Creating a detailed strategy can help keep you on track towards achieving your goals. The month ends with Mercury entering Libra inviting you to regain some internal balance after being so externally-focused.
SagittariusSagittariusLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The month begins with a New Moon in Leo inviting you to expand your horizons through higher learning, cultural exploration, and travel. On the 11th, Mercury enters Virgo which could have you feeling a little more critical of yourself. Just keep up the good work and the recognition will come, Sagittarius.
When Venus enters Libra on the 16th, you're feeling the love amongst your friends. They'll be the pick-me-up that you need to remember who the f*ck you are in all of your greatness.
On the 19th, Uranus goes Retrograde encouraging you to explore your talents and how they're able to serve others. What you once viewed as a curse may actually be a gift if you can reframe your perspective. The Full Moon on the 22nd liberates you from the shackles of conforming. You were always meant to be a stand out in a crowd of carbon copies. On the same day, the Sun enters Virgo which has you reaching beyond your comfort zone in matters of career. Shoot for the Moon and land amongst the stars. The month ends with Mercury entering Libra, supporting you in connecting with the right allies to achieve your long-term goals.
CapricornCapricornLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The New Moon on the 8th invites you to transform your pain through creative expression, Capricorn. Your vulnerabilities need an outlet. Don't feel pressured to share with others. Just do it for the sake of your emotional well-being. On the 11th, Mercury enters Virgo, making this a good time to go back to school or seek some knowledge through your travels.
When Venus enters Libra, you're feeling the pressure to make some major career moves. Just avoid stepping on people's toes on your way to the top.
When Uranus goes Retrograde on the 19th, you may feel more restless and bored with the day-to-day routine. Your need for excitement and adventure are valid so get creative on ways you can nurture your inner child while still tending to your responsibilities. On the 22nd, the Full Moon releases you from financial troubles with the launch of a new project or job opportunity that comes your way. On the same day, the Sun enters Virgo, inviting you to explore the truth within. You're much wiser than you give yourself credit for. The month wraps up with Mercury transitioning into Libra, helping you talk a good game when it comes to contracts and negotiations. Don't sell yourself short, boo!
AquariusAquariusLaci Jordan for xoNecole
Your partnerships are the focus on the New Moon inviting you to (re)establish your boundaries and negotiate new (or existing) contracts. On the 11th, Mercury enters Virgo, making this a good time to get out of your head with all of the overanalyzing and talk it out with your therapist instead. When Venus enters Libra, you're ready to pack your bags for your next excursion. Where to next, Aquarius?
On the 19th, your ruling planet, Uranus, goes Retrograde to invoke radical transformation to your idea of home and family. We can't choose the family we're born into but we can choose connections that nurture our authenticity.
The Full Moon on the 22nd liberates you from feeling the black sheep. Honor the eccentricities that make you the unique badass that you are. The right people will come. On the same day, the Sun enters Virgo which could be supportive for new financial alliances. The month ends with Mercury entering Libra, making this a good time to study, research, and write about all of those ramblings in your mind. You never know how sharing your perspective can change someone's life.
PiscesPiscesLaci Jordan for xoNecole
The New Moon on the 8th invites you to get a better grasp on your daily routines if you've been lost in the astral realm somewhere kicking it with the ascended masters. Come back down to earth, Pisces. You've got work to do. On the 11th, Mercury enters Virgo, making this a good time to renegotiate contracts and establish some clear boundaries in your relationships.
When Venus enters Libra on the 16th, it's time to get serious about paying off any outstanding debts. The less you owe, the more your finances can grow.
On the 19th, Uranus goes Retrograde which has you revamping your communication style. What strategies can you conjure up to connect with your audience more consistently and effectively? The Full Moon on the 22nd confirms that you do, in fact, have a hater in your midst. Your authenticity triggers those that aren't brave enough to be themselves and that is not your problem. They need to grow some self-esteem before they step into the presence of a goddess. On the same day, the Sun enters Virgo, which has you focused on aligning with powerful allies. The month wraps up with Mercury entering Libra, helping you regain balance between your heart and mind.
Featured image by Laci Jordan for xoNecole
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Amber Riley Is In Her Element
Amber Riley has the type of laugh that sticks with you long after the raspy, rhythmic sounds have ceased. It punctuates her sentences sometimes, whether she’s giving a chuckle to denote the serious nature of something she just said or throwing her head back in rip-roarious laughter after a joke. She laughs as if she understands the fragility of each minute. She chooses laughter often with the understanding that future joy is not guaranteed.
Credit: Ally Green
The sound of her laughter is rivaled only by her singing voice, an emblem of the past and the future resilience of Black women stretched over a few octaves. On Fox’s Glee, her character Mercedes Jones was portrayed, perhaps unfairly, as the vocal duel to Rachel Berry (Lea Michele), offering rough, full-throated belts behind her co-star’s smooth, pristine vocals. Riley’s always been more than the singer who could deliver a finishing note, though.
Portraying Effie White, she displayed the dynamic emotions of a song such as “And I'm Telling You I'm Not Going” in Dreamgirls on London’s West End without buckling under the historic weight of her predecessors. With her instrument, John Mayer’s “Gravity” became a religious experience, a belted hymnal full of growls and churchy riffs. In her voice, Nicole Scherzinger once said she heard “the power of God.”
Credit: Ally Green
Riley’s voice has been a staple throughout pop culture for nearly 15 years now. Her tone has become so distinguishable that most viewers of Fox’s The Masked Singer recognized the multihyphenate even before it was revealed that she was Harp, the competition-winning, gold-masked figure with an actual harp strapped to her back.
Still, it wasn’t until recently that Riley began to feel like she’d found her voice. This sounds unbelievable. But she’s not referring to the one she uses on stage. She’s referencing the voice that speaks to who she is at her core. “Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind,” the 37-year-old says. “It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women. I got so comfortable in [doing so], and I really want other people, especially Black women, to get more comfortable in that space.”
“Therapy kind of gave me the training to speak my mind. It’s not something we’re taught, especially as Black women."
If you ask Riley’s manager, Myisha Brooks, she’ll tell you the foundation of who the multihyphenate is hasn’t changed much since she was a kid growing up in Compton. “She is who she is from when I met her back when she was singing in the front of the church to back when she landed major roles in film and TV,” Brooks says. Time has allowed Riley to grow more comfortable, giving fans a more intimate glimpse into her life, including her mental health journey and the ins and outs of show business.
The actress/singer has been in therapy since 2019, although she suffered from depression and anxiety way before that. In a recent interview with Jason Lee, she recalls having suicidal ideation as a kid. By the time she started seeing a psychologist and taking antidepressants in her thirties, her body had become jittery, a physical reminder of the trauma stacked high inside her. “I was shaking in [my therapist’s] office,” she tells xoNecole. “My fight or flight was on such a high level. I was constantly in survival mode. My heart was beating fast all the time. All I did was sweat.”
There wasn’t just childhood trauma to account for. After auditioning for American Idol and being turned away by producers, Riley began working for Ikea and nearly missed her Glee audition because her car broke down on the highway while en route. Thankfully, Riley had been cast to play Mercedes Jones. American Idol had temporarily convinced her she wasn’t cut out for the entertainment industry, but this was validation that she was right where she belonged. Glee launched in 2009 with the promise of becoming Riley’s big break.
In some ways, it was. The show introduced Riley to millions of fans and catapulted her into major Hollywood circles. But in other ways, it became a reminder of the types of roles Black women, especially those who are plus-sized, are relegated to. Behind the scenes, Riley says she fought for her character "to have a voice" but eventually realized her efforts were useless. "It finally got to a point where I was like, this is not my moment. I'm not who they're choosing, and this is just going to have to be a job for me for now," she says. "And, that's okay because it pays my bills, I still get to be on television, I'm doing more than any other Black plus-sized women that I'm seeing right now on screen."
The actress can recognize now that she was navigating issues associated with trauma and low self-esteem at the time. She now knows that she's long had anxiety and depression and can recognize the ways in which she was triggered by how the cult-like following of the show conflicted with her individual, isolated experiences behind the scenes. But she was in her early '20s back then. She didn't yet have the language or the tools to process how she was feeling.
Riley says she eventually sought out medical intervention. "When you're in Hollywood, and you go to a doctor, they give you pills," she says, sharing a part of her story that she'd never revealed publicly before now. "[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that's not fixing my problem. If anything, it's making it worse."
“[I was] on medication and developing a habit of medicating to numb, not understanding I was developing an addiction to something that’s not fixing my problem. If anything it’s making it worse.”
Credit: Ally Green
At one point, while in her dressing room on set, she rested her arm on a curling iron without realizing it. It wasn't until her makeup artist alerted her that she even realized her skin was burning. Once she noticed, she says she was "so zonked out on pills" that she barely reacted. Speaking today, she holds up her arm and motions towards a scar that remains from the incident. She sought help for her reliance on the pills, but it would still be years before she finally attended therapy.
This stress was only compounded by the trauma of growing up in poverty and the realities of being a "contract worker." "Imagine going from literally one week having to borrow a car to get to set to the next week being on a private jet to New York City," she says. After Glee ended, so did the rides on private planes. The fury of opportunities she expected to follow her appearance on the show failed to materialize. She wasn't even 30 yet, and she was already forced to consider if she'd hit her career peak.
. . .
We’re only four minutes into our Zoom call before Riley delivers her new adage to me. “My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway,” she says.
On this Thursday afternoon in April, the LA-based entertainer is seated inside her closet/dressing room wearing a cerulean blue tank top with matching shorts and eating hot wings. This current phase of healing hinges on balance. It’s about having discipline and consistency, but not at the risk of inflexibility. She was planning to head to the gym, for instance, but she’s still tired from the “exhausting” day before. Instead, she’s spent her day receiving a massage, eating some chicken wings, and planning to spend quality time with friends. “I’m not going to beat myself up for it. I’m not going to talk down to myself. I’m going to eat my chicken wings, and then tomorrow I’m [back] in the gym,” she says.
“My new mantra is ‘humility does not serve me.’ Humility does not serve Black women. The world works so hard to humble us anyway."
This is the balance with which she's been approaching much of her life these days. It's why she's worried less about whether or not people see her as someone who is humble. She'd rather be respected. "I think you should be a person that's easy to work with, but in the moments where I have to ruffle feathers and make waves, I'm not shying away from that anymore. You can do it in love, you don't have to be nasty about it, but I had to finally be comfortable with the fact that setting boundaries around my life – in whatever aspect, whether that's personal or business – people are not going to like it. Some people are not going to have nice things to say about you, and you gotta be okay with it," she says.
When Amber talks about the constant humbling of Black women in Hollywood, I think of the entertainers before her who have suffered from this. The brilliant, consistent, overqualified Black women who have spoken of having to fight for opportunities and fair pay. Aretha Franklin. Viola Davis. Tracee Ellis Ross. There's a long list of stars whose success hasn't mirrored their experiences behind the scenes.
Credit: Ally Green
If Black women outside of Hollywood are struggling to decrease the pay gap, so, too, are their wealthier, more famous peers.
Riley says there’s been progress in recent years, but only in small ways and for a limited group of people. “This business is exhausting. The goalpost is constantly moving, and sometimes it’s unfair,” she says. But, I have to say it’s the love that keeps you going.”
“There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman,” she continues. “We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
"There’s no way you can continue to be in this business and not love it, especially being a plus-sized Black woman. We’re still niche. We’re still not main characters.”
Last year, Riley starred alongside Raven Goodwin in the Lifetime thriller Single Black Female (a modern, diversified take on 1992’s Single White Female). It was more than a leading role for the actress, it also served as proof that someone who looks like her can front a successful project without it hinging on her identity. It showcased that the characters she portrays don’t “have to be about being a big girl. It can just be a regular story.”
Riley sees her work in music as an extension of her efforts to push past the rigid stereotypes in entertainment. Take her appearance on The Masked Singer, for instance. Riley said she decided to perform Mayer’s “Gravity” after being told she couldn’t sing it years earlier. “I wanted to do ‘Gravity’ on Glee. [I] was told no, because that’s not a song that Mercedes would do,” she says. “That was a full circle moment for me, doing that on that show and to hear what it is they had to say.”
As Scherzinger praised the “anointed” performance, a masked Riley began to cry, her chest heaving as she stood on stage, her eyes shielded from view. “You have to understand, I have really big names – casting directors, producers, show creators – that constantly tell me ‘I’m such a big fan. Your talent is unmatched.’ Hire me, then,” she says, reflecting on the moment.
Recently, she’s been in the studio working on original music, the follow-up to her independently-released debut EP, 2020’s Riley. The sequel to songs such as the anthemic “Big Girl Energy” and the reflective ballad “A Moment” on Riley, this new project hones in on the singer’s R&B roots with sensual grooves such as the tentatively titled “All Night.” “You said I wasn’t shit, turns out that I’m the shit. Then you called me a bitch, turns out that I’m that bitch. You said no one would want me, well you should call your homies,” she sings on the tentatively titled “Lately,” a cut about reflecting on a past relationship. From the forthcoming project, xoNecole received five potential tracks. Fans likely already know the strengths and contours of Riley’s vocals, but these new songs are her strongest, most confident offerings as an artist.
“I am so much more comfortable as a writer, and I know who I am as an artist now. I’m evolving as a human being, in general, so I’m way more vulnerable in my music. I’m way more willing to talk about whatever is on my mind. I don’t stop myself from saying what it is I want to say,” she says.
Credit: Ally Green
“Every era and alliteration of Amber, the baseline is ‘Big Girl Energy.’ That’s the name of her company,” her manager Brooks says, referencing the imprint through which Riley releases her music after getting out of a label deal several years ago. “It’s just what she stands for. She’s not just talking about size, it’s in all things. Whether it’s putting your big girl pants on and having to face a boardroom full of executives or sell yourself in front of a casting agent. It’s her trying to achieve the things she wants to do in life.”
Riley says she has big dreams beyond releasing this new music, too. She’d love to star in a rom-com with Winston Duke. She hasn't starred in a biopic yet, but she’d revel in the opportunity to portray Rosetta Tharpe on screen. She’s determined that her previous setbacks won’t stop her from dreaming big.
“I think one of my superpowers is resilience because, at the end of the day, I’m going to kick, scream, cry, cuss, be mad and disappointed, but I’m going to get up and risk having to deal with it all again. It’s worth it for the happy moments,” she says.
If Riley seems more comfortable and confident professionally, it’s because of the work she’s been doing in her personal life.
She’d previously spoken to xoNecole about becoming engaged to a man she discovered in a post on the site, but she called things off last year. For Valentine’s Day, she revealed her new boyfriend publicly. “I decided to post him on Valentine’s Day, partially because I was in the dog house. I got in trouble with him,” she says, half-joking before turning serious. “The breakup was never going to stop me from finding love. Or at least trying. I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness, and you enjoy it and work through it.”
Credit: Ally Green
"I don’t owe anybody a happily ever after. People break up. It happens. When it was good, it was good. When it was bad, it was terrible, hunny. I had to get the fuck up out of there. You find happiness and you enjoy it and work through it.”
With her ex, Riley was pretty outspoken about her relationship, even appearing in content for Netflix with him. This time around is different. She’s not hiding her boyfriend of eight months, but she’s more protective of him, especially because he’s a father and isn’t interested in becoming a public figure.
She’s traveling more, too. It’s a deliberate effort on her part to enjoy her money and reject the trauma she’s developed after experiencing poverty in her childhood. “I live in constant fear of being broke. I don’t think you ever don’t remember that trauma or move past that. Now I travel and I’m like, listen, if it goes, it goes. I’m not saying [to] be reckless, but I deserve to enjoy my hard work.”
After everything she’s been through, she certainly deserves to finally let loose a bit. “I have to have a life to live,” she says. “I’ve got to have a life worth fighting for.”
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Better Off Braless: The Benefits Of Not Wearing A Bra More Often
Somewhere between the start of the pandemic and entering the late stages of my 20s, bras become less and less of a priority.
Within that span of time, I, like most of the world, spent my days inhabiting my small bubble, staying in the house with loose-fitting loungewear, and being on Zoom calls that only required me to be presentable from the neck up. So as the demand to have my breasts at their perkiest form, so did my commitment to wearing bras.
The relationship that most women have with their bras is… well, complicated. While society has led us to believe that they’re required for us to be deemed as “ladylike” and “neat,” many of us find the garment to be a bothersome (and optional) accessory at best.
From underwires that poke and dig at our sides to push-ups that spill over, the argument in support of bras has begun to wane over the last few decades, with women of all cup sizes asking themselves if it’s better to just go braless.
Courtesy of Harper Wilde
“Many years ago, I ditched wired bras and opted for going braless out of a desire for freedom and celebrating natural human form,” multi-hyphenate Alyson Stoner tells xoNecole. The movement activist best known for their fly dance moves with the likes of Missy Elliott and on Step Up 2: The Streets, shares that when it comes to their bra selection, comfort is key. “As someone who enjoys moving their body, I found that I do want an underlayer that provides some support without interfering with comfort and mobility.”
A source of concern when choosing to go braless is whether or not the lack of support from a bra will, in turn, affect the firmness of one’s breast, resulting in early sagging. However, Sabrina Sahni, M.D., an oncologist at Mayo Clinic in Florida, shares that breast sagging is a result of age, not whether you’ve ditched your bras.
“Sagging breasts – also called ptosis – generally occurs due to chronic aging,” she tells xoNecole. “The breast is made up of a combination of glandular and fibrous tissue and fat tissue. Over time, the glandular tissue may become replaced with fattier tissue, and that can lead to more sagging. Wearing a bra or not wearing a bra ultimately does not change that.”
"Wearing a bra or not wearing a bra ultimately does not change that."
Women with heavier breasts may find that going braless may have its set of drawbacks, but Dr. Sahni says that you should always pay attention to your comfort levels since bras are a garment designed to support your back and correct your posture. “Those with heavier or larger breasts who choose to go braless may actually have worsening back/neck/shoulder pain,” she says. “Wearing a bra may allow them to correct their posture and help alleviate tension on those muscle groups.”
“Women with larger breasts may benefit from wearing a well-fitted, supportive bra as it may alleviate things like upper back pain or neck pain,” she shares.
Listening to your body is key when choosing whether you want to toss out your bras forever or just for a day. The beauty in a woman’s body is that it will tell us what we need to know before we even have to ask. There are common misconceptions about tighter bras being linked to causing health issues like breast cancer.
And while studies do show that Black women are “twice as likely to be diagnosed with breast cancer early when compared with Caucasian women,” the manifestation of this disease is predetermined by other varying factors.
“There are a lot of myths out there about going braless being better for breast cancer risk. It is completely false,” Dr. Sahni explains. “Whether or not you wear a bra does not have any bearing on your overall breast cancer risk. Ultimately, your risk is dependent on a variety of factors, including family history, your breast density, your lifestyle, and your reproductive history.”
If you’re looking for classic, weightless comfort that’s close to going braless, Alyson Stoner recommends Harper Wilde, a body-inclusive intimates brand on a mission to create a more comfortable world for womankind. They currently have a capsule collection with the intimates brand in partnership with their company, Movement Genius.
“Harper Wilde has been my go-to for years now because the materials are truly soothing on my sensitive skin, the amount of support feels like you're being gently hugged (not squeezed), and the styles are flattering and beautiful enough to wear as shirts or visible layers,” they say.
Courtesy of Harper Wilde
The brand offers super soft, breathable cotton fabric in their Triangle and Scoop Bralettes ($40 each) that will put the bliss and comfort back in your bosom.
Dr. Sahni says that choosing to opt out of bras or keep them close to your chest “truly depends on the individual” but it should be understood that “wearing or not wearing a bra won't significantly impact your overall health.”
“Ultimately, it comes down to comfort. There are some women with chronic breast pain where perhaps changing their bras to something more supportive and well-fitted may help,” she says. “Alternatively, some women find that going bra-less will alleviate their breast pain. I tell women that they should choose a bra that is comfortable for them, feels supportive, and one that they can wear regularly.”
So whether you choose to free the tatas or wear a bra that feels like it’s barely there, remember to listen to your body because ultimately, the choice is yours.
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